ONES THAT GOT AWAY

THE CARS WE SHOULD HAVE BOUGHT OR ARE JUST GLAD WE DIDN’T...

CLIFF CHAMBERS

Tell us in 60 words the car you should have bought, or were lucky enough to buy!

Send your tale to uniquecars@bauertrader.com.au with ‘Gotaways’ in the title HOLDEN COMMODORE VC BROCK My old boss had a VC Brock back in the late-90s. It was driven every day and left in a shopping centre car park. She often laughed about it and referred to it as the “old Brocky”. If only...

SOTIRIS VLAKAS - KANGAROO GROUND VIC

JANUARY 1990 RENAULT 16TS

Hard as it might be to believe, Renault’s 16TS hatchback was viewed 50 years ago as a practical alternative to 1.6-litre Alfas and BMWs. Lots were sold during the late 1960s but inflation and import costs were killers and by 1976 when this 16TS hit the road, it cost more than a V8 Torana Hatchback. So, where have all these versatile Renaults gone? Unique Cars’ archive revealed just one offered recently for sale; tatty and priced at $2950. The Aussie Frogs webpage saw members discussing several 16s currently under restoration. So they do still exist.

NOW $3000 $6500-8500

MARCH 1996 LEYLAND P76 CONVERTIBLE

Years ago there was a well-executed P76 Ute that raised questions about Leyland-built prototypes.

However we are convinced that, like the ute, this interesting aberration was unofficial and the product of some creative owner’s enthusiasm. By the 1990s, rust had wiped out most of the P76 population but if you could locate a decent shell there were plenty of new panels still available and anything was possible.

Hiding a couple of hefty girders behind the sill panels would deal with rigidity issues and deliver a structurally-sound soft-top. So P76 fans, where was it built, who by and has it survived?

NOW $9000 $18,000+

DECEMBER 1999 1948 CHEVROLET STYLEMASTER

By 1948 when virtually every local vehicle assembler had a ‘coupe utility’ in its range, General Motors- Holdens was a leading proponent of the ‘ute’ market.

Two Chevrolet versions were available: the basic Fleetmaster and the leather-trimmed Stylemaster.

The radio was non-standard, very expensive at the time and prestigious. Lots of these Chev utes were left to rot on rural properties but they were tough and plenty survived long enough to be restored.

Unrestored examples like this would have been very scarce and outlaying $8500 rates as a smart investment.

NOW $8500 $20-25,000

MAY 1995 1954 VW KOMBI AMBULANCE

‘Beats walkin’ mate’ might have well been the response from a bush ‘ambo’ when being overtaken by kids on three-speed Malvern Stars. Early Kombis battled to reach 95km/h and when loaded down with medical gear, a patient and couple of medics the trip to hospital would have been torturous indeed. Although its time in active service might have been brief , we reckon this Kombi found its way into caring hands and this appearance will prompt a current or past owner to pass on some additional detail.

NOW $ 10,500 $65-80,000 6

APRIL 1993 PONTIAC 2+2

Known simply as a ‘2+2’, one of these Nascarkitted Pontiacs so effectively convinced a US car magazine of its performance credentials that they scored it ahead of a Ferrari 330GT 2+2 in a head-tohead comparison test. Top speed at 210km/h didn’t quite match the V12, however the Pontiac won based on ease and cost of maintenance, overall performance and, of course, price. This 2+2 was likely built RHD at a Canadian GM factory and exported here as a brand new car. Back in cashstrapped 1993 that $18,000 may have looked a mite high but overseas values since then have soared.

NOW $18,000 $55-70,000

MAY 1992 DODGE CHALLENGER SE

No the price is not a misprint, the car does have an engine (although maybe not the correct one) and it does look to be in decent condition. Then why so cheap? In simple terms it took Australians a long time to form attachments to Chrysler-made ‘Mopar’ performance cars and prices during the 1990s hardly moved at all. To enjoy the freedom of full registration the buyer would need to find the price of a RHD conversion but that still wouldn’t have driven the value of this scarce SE-spec Challenger beyond the cost of a basic 1970s Mustang.

NOW $7900 $55-65,000

JUNE 1993 XW FORD FALCON

There are arguments over ‘authenticity’ vs ‘originality’ but this XW kicks goals at both ends of the park. With the Falcon averaging just 1500 miles (2400km) a year since new, not much under the skin would be worn out, however some parts probably succumbed to age-related fatigue. Those ‘starfish’ wheel trims are unusual but were available across the XW Falcon/Fairmont range and came from the USA where they were a common sight on compact Fords. With a 5.0-litre V8 humming under its hood, we hope this well-preserved Falcon is set to soon tick off half-century of existence.

NOW $9000 $30-35,000